Year: 2018-19

Alaa Khalid Siddiqui

School: Modern Middle East International School

Grade: 5

City: Riyadh

Teacher: Fauziya I. A. Ansari

Target: Europa

The possibility of life on Europa, one of the four Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter, is worth researching. The presence of abundant liquid water, geochemical energy and chemistry within its interior makes the moon an intriguing subject for investigation.

Underneath its icy crust, Europa is the only planetary body in the solar system having more water than all the oceans on Earth! This unique planetary object in the entire solar system has a remarkably smooth surface and is highly reflective due to the frozen water. Scientists investigated and found that the mesmerizing patterns on the moon were created whenever Europa moves closer to Jupiter. Jupiter’s gravity causes high tides in the sea beneath Europa’s icy surface, which causes the ice to crack. The moon’s unusual beauty is therefore due to the cracks and ridges that appear on its frozen surface.

The interesting observations of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope were the plumes of water erupting from Europa’s surface that indicated activity under its icy crust. These plumes provide an opportunity to study the ocean underneath the moon’s surface that would help scientists attain a better understanding of the chemical composition of Europa. NASA’s Europa Clipper is expected to follow up on these observations with the help of a thermal instrument (Europa THermal Emission Imaging System (E-THEMIS)) that would detect evidence of warmer water near the moon’s surface. The instrument is also said to be of great importance as it minimizes the need to drill through the icy layers.

Europa’s fascinating surface motivates scientists to work tirelessly to find evidence of life on this spectacular moon. In 2017, research showed that Europa is the only other planet besides Earth that has plate tectonics. This finding is of particular importance as it suggests that matter from the surface of the moon travels to its ocean bed. Interestingly, Europa’s ocean has been found to have all the vital elements that could support life.

I think Jupiter’s moon Europa is worth examining, as there can be vast benefits and would also tell us more about this interesting moon including our solar system."

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